Brys­ton

BryFi BW-1 Wire­less Am­pli­fied Loud­speaker

NOVO - - REVIEW - by Glen Wa­genknecht

Brys­ton

has been a revered name in the au­dio­phile and pro­fes­sional com­mu­nity for over 35 years. From the on­set their prod­ucts have been con­sid­ered up­per ech­e­lon for their su­perb sound qual­ity, top notch en­gi­neer­ing, and bul­let­proof re­li­a­bil­ity. Many of their am­pli­fiers have out­lived their ex­tra­or­di­nary 20 year war­ranty by wide mar­gin and are still go­ing strong in the harsh­est 24/7 en­vi­ron­ments. Over the years their range of of­fer­ings has con­tin­u­ally ex­panded from their orig­i­nal am­pli­fier lines into the realms of dig­i­tal, ana­log turnta­bles, and speak­ers to name a few. They have kept them­selves fresh and rel­e­vant by both fol­low­ing and lead­ing the chang­ing needs of the mar­ket­place. con­tin­ues Brys­ton’s suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort with Ax­iom Au­dio, min­ing fresh ter­ri­tory in the cur­rent pop­u­lar field of com­pact sin­gle box stereo loud­speak­ers. It aims to prove that state of the art tech­nol­ogy and aes­thetic so­phis­ti­ca­tion can come as a sin­gle pack­age. This sleek am­pli­fied loud­speaker is ex­tremely dé­cor friendly, break­ing out of the con­ven­tional box mold by uti­liz­ing el­e­gant curved sur­faces with qual­ity ac­cents, and is avail­able in a full as­sort­ment of wood fin­ishes from their reg­u­lar speaker line as well as a cus­tom black or sil­ver alu­minum top with the Brys­ton logo em­bossed into it. Cus­tom colours are also avail­able on re­quest. It looks and dis­plays like an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor’s dream, but what can it do?

In our mod­ern file based uni­verse of dig­i­tal mu­sic this am­bi­tious lit­tle all-in-one en­try can pretty much do it all. The BW-1 has WiFi con­nec­tiv­ity, al­low­ing you ac­cess to net­work mu­sic files, in­ter­net ra­dio and stream­ing ser­vices plus accessibility to por­ta­ble stor­age. In the ab­sence of a WiFi net­work you can switch it to be a hot spot, cre­at­ing your own WiFi net­work. It’s also Air­Play and UPnP com­pat­i­ble for stream­ing. While WiFi of­fers ease of use and both su­pe­rior range and sound qual­ity, Blue­tooth fans also get sup­port with firmware cur­rently in the works. Tucked be­hind the small front pop down Brys­ton panel, is an Eth­er­net port and two 3.5mm mini­plug ana­log in­puts, as well as 4 USB 2.0 in­puts, power but­ton, vol­ume con­trol for ana­log sources and 3 sta­tus LEDs. Es­sen­tially, if you’ve got mu­sic, there’s a way to get it there. Want to break free from the con­fines of the room? Op­tional in­ter­nal bat­tery packs let you take the mu­sic any­where you want to go. Yes, there’s even

a carry han­dle built into the back of the unit. Want multi room ca­pa­bil­ity with more than one BW-1? That’s here too. Need more bass? There’s a mini­plug sub­woofer out­put on the rear to shake things up.

Func­tion­al­ity is one thing. Sound can of­ten be a dif­fer­ent mat­ter, and cer­tainly the stan­dards ap­plied to sin­gle box so­lu­tions gen­er­ally don’t pass muster with the ears of au­dio­phile lis­ten­ers. Well, that’s not the case here. Brys­ton has en­tered the life­style game with se­ri­ous as­pi­ra­tions that will sur­prise and sat­isfy the tough­est critic. Un­der­neath that stylish ex­te­rior there’s a whole lot of so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy. The heart is Brys­ton’s BDP-Pi dig­i­tal player based on the Rasp­berry Pi plat­form which sup­ports the play­back of most dig­i­tal file for­mats up to a na­tive res­o­lu­tion of 192/24. For the com­puter knowl­edge­able au­dio­phile that will earn a big thumbs up. For the com­puter chal­lenged mu­sic lover it just means you’ve got one of the best lit­tle com­puter en­gines in ex­is­tence ded­i­cated to de­liv­er­ing mu­sic from point A to B, with the ap­pro­pri­ate tech­no­log­i­cal might to un­ravel the beauty of higher res­o­lu­tion files and let you hear them in all their glory. On the mus­cle end of the equa­tion are two pow­er­ful Brys­ton 75 watt am­pli­fiers driv­ing a pair of 3 way speak­ers sourced from their ac­claimed Mini A loud­speak­ers. They can im­press with del­i­cate fi­nesse or play the party an­i­mal at loud­ness lev­els up to 115 db. How loud is that? A jet air­plane en­gine on take­off is only 5 db louder. The BryFi BW-1 has the looks and the tech­no­log­i­cal re­fine­ment, but is it sim­ple to op­er­ate?

Set up is quick and easy for all pop­u­lar plat­forms in­clud­ing iOS and An­driod de­vices, as well as PCs. Down­load­ing the ded­i­cated BryFi app gives you re­mote ac­cess from a smart­phone or tablet, and any other com­pat­i­ble UPnP mu­sic pro­gram should work nicely. As with any­thing com­puter based, there are min­i­mal op­er­at­ing sys­tems re­quire­ments, but noth­ing un­usual. Setup in­struc­tions are short “fol­low the bounc­ing ball” il­lus­trated style for all for­mats. If you run into a snag there’s al­ways sup­port avail­able, or sim­ply ask any 14 year old video gamer for help. It should be that easy. With that out of the way comes the big ques­tion.

How did it sound?

PER­FOR­MANCE

When I fired up the BW-1 for the first time, I was quite sur­prised at the qual­ity of the sound. I shouldn’t have been. Af­ter all, it is a Brys­ton. While some peo­ple may as­sume from the svelte, el­lip­ti­cal styling and com­pact pro­por­tions that this would be merely a glo­ri­fied ta­ble ra­dio, the BW-1 quickly be­lied that as­sump­tion by flex­ing ma­jor mu­si­cal mus­cle. I turned to my Wyred 4 Sound mu­sic server for high res­o­lu­tion file sources and Tidal stream­ing via a host of the avail­able de­liv­ery meth­ods to see how the BryFi would re­act. Whether hard wired, di­rect WiFi ac­cessed, through net­work or Air­Play, all de­liv­ered mu­sic with­out a prob­lem. In terms of au­dio qual­ity, chal­leng­ing the BW-1 with the mu­si­cal gamut, from high res­o­lu­tion record­ings like the clas­sic au­dio­phile ch­est­nut La Fo­lia de la Spagna, or bouncy big band jazz pieces from Ref­er­ence Record­ings, to un­com­pressed Tidal stream­ing fare like Tia Guo’s heavy me­tal cello ma­te­rial for Won­der Woman, proved the lit­tle box quite ca­pa­ble of un­leash­ing au­dio­phile cal­iber de­tail with dy­namic pas­sion. Bass was pow­er­ful and con­vinc­ing be­yond its con­ser­va­tive 60 Hz spec (use­able to 35 cy­cles in my room), even with­out sub­woofer aug­men­ta­tion. Midrange was clean and ex­pres­sive, giv­ing vo­cals an un­clut­tered hon­esty, and high fre­quen­cies showed their Mini A her­itage, play­ing ar­tic­u­late, nu­anced, and with­out strain.

The lit­tle Brys­ton could play the part of the de­mure lit­tle back­ground ac­ces­sory when re­quired, but it was ca­pa­ble of far more. The BryFi shone when tak­ing on the role of a full fledged main au­dio sys­tem. When I was seated fur­ther back in the room, the BW-1 pro­duced a wide stereo im­age, well de­lin­eated and with a de­cent cal­iber of depth in­for­ma­tion. How did the in­te­grated sin­gle box so­lu­tion com­pare against my reg­u­lar, full range rib­bon sys­tem, with it’s pha­lanx of big box hard­ware? The an­swer was, dis­con­cert­ingly well. The BW-1 proved so adept at play­ing the part of the se­ri­ous au­dio­phile com­po­nent that vis­i­tors made the mis­taken as­sump­tion they were lis­ten­ing to my mas­sive, big rig Apogee sys­tem. I had to prove them wrong, but that as­sump­tion was a tremen­dous com­pli­ment to the lit­tle one box won­der, and a tes­ta­ment to the sheer ex­cel­lence of the sound.

Brys­ton has a po­ten­tial hit on its hands with their BryFi BW-1. It ap­peals to both the sea­soned au­dio­phile and the life­style con­scious seek­ing out a wealth of tech­ni­cal so­phis­ti­ca­tion backed with solid mu­si­cal tal­ent. The bat­tery op­tion even of­fers the added twist of a true por­ta­ble high-end de­vice that can kick out the jams in the back yard or the cot­tage. Es­tab­lished, hard­core au­dio­philes mak­ing a down­size move won’t feel mu­si­cally com­pro­mised, and ur­ban dwellers eye­ing the con­ve­nience and smaller foot­print of a one box so­lu­tion will find that the slightly higher price tag of the BW-1 buys le­git­i­mate up­scale sound. The BryFi BW-1 is a high qual­ity prod­uct that should pro­vide tremen­dous fun and ver­sa­til­ity, and ex­pand Brys­ton’s stel­lar mu­si­cal her­itage into the homes of a whole new au­di­ence.

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